21 Oct 2019

Streets ahead in the Cruiser Class field, Solar Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands is in a class of its own, claiming its fourth consecutive Cruiser Cup in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Its fourth-generation solar electric car, Stella Era, purpose built for the BWSC, impressed on the road and on the judging floor. Pitched as an ‘opportunity seeker’, Stella Era is a charging station on wheels with eight inbuilt radars which can detect the intensity of the sun and move to charge accordingly. Overall second place went to Australia’s Sunswift in Violet and third place went to Hong Kong’s team IVE in Sophie 6.

To win the Cruiser Cup, solar electric cars must complete the journey from Darwin to Adelaide within time windows and as energy efficiently as possible. Out of 13 Cruisers, just three completed the Challenge within the time frame. Going into the second phase of judging, Eindhoven was leading on 111.7 points, followed by Australia’s Sunswift on 56.1 and Hong Kong’s Team IVE on 44.2.

All were judged in Adelaide yesterday by an expert panel to evaluate the market potential of each solar electric car. The focus was on assessing characteristics such as: design innovation; environmental impact, ease of access; driver and passenger comfort; controls; features; style; and overall style and desirability.

Teams presented to12 adjudicators including industry leaders from Tesla, Suntrix and Prohelion, past BWSC faculty and alumni, international solar challenge organisers from Chile, South Africa and the US and media representatives.

A range of features caught the judges’ attention – from touch-screen connectivity and data transfer, infotainment systems, smart apps, to energy sharing systems and everything in between. For some, safety and road registration were ultimate goals, others focused on interior comforts and technology. In the practicality wrap-up, the Eindhoven car continued its dominance with a score of 93.1 points. Second in the practicality ranks on 82.4, Lodz presented a stylish looking car with inbuilt infotainment system and third in the practicality rankings was Cambridge on 79.9.

Event Director Chris Selwood AM said in the fourth iteration of the Cruiser class, the number of competitors doubled. I congratulate Team Eindhoven on an incredible all-round performance.

‘‘The determinants of success in this class are a combination of speed, endurance, and energy inputs before a subjective judging element. What is a practical car? We look at ease of access, controls and instrumentation, features and benefits, style and aesthetics, and we expose these young engineers to that most intangible quality demanded of designers – desirability,’ Mr Selwood said.

‘The criteria for determining success in this class is complex. Eindhoven continues to innovate. Their goal, to bring solar electric cars to the everyday driver is to be commended.

‘Stella Era’ not only looks beautiful, she’s smart and energy efficient – a standout design in a diverse and talented field,’ Mr Selwood concluded.

The usually dominant Dutch did not experience their accustomed success in this year’s Challenger Class. Having led the race for three days in RED E, Team Twente from the Netherlands was looking good for their first win before being literally blown out of contention on day four, when an unprecedented wind gust pushed them off the road and out of the Challenge. In a final day of dramas, 2017 champion, Vattenfall was clinging to a two-minute lead over Belgian’s Team Agoria before their dreams went up in flames.

Line honours went to Agoria in BluePoint – a solar car that revelled in the conditions, being designed to sail on the wind. With an average speed of 86.6 kilometres per hour, they crossed the line first ahead of second place Tokai from Japan and US team Michigan.